CAN one consider Spiritism as a revelation? If it be such, what is its character? Upon what is its authenticity founded? By whom, and in what manner, has it been given? Is the doctrine of Spiritism a revelation in the liturgical sense of the word? That is to say, is it in all points the product of occult teaching from on high? Is it absolute, or capable of modifications? In conveying to men perfect truth, would not revelation have the effect of hindering them from employing their faculties, since it would save them the work of research? What can be the authority of the teachings of the spirits if they are not infallible, and superior to those of humanity? What is the utility of the morality that they preach if this is other than that of the Christ whom men acknowledge? What are the new truths which they bring to us? Has man need of a revelation, and can he find in himself and in his conscience all that is necessary to lead him aright? Such questions are important to answer. Let us define at first the sense of the word. "Revelation," to reveal, derived from the word "veil," from the Latin velum, signifies literally to take away the veil, and, figuratively, to uncover, to make the acquaintance of a secret or unknown fact. In its most general sense it is employed with reference to every unknown thing which is brought to light, to every new idea which is given to man. Indeed, all the sciences which have revealed the mysteries of nature are revelations; and one can well say that there is for us a constant revelation. Astronomy has revealed to us the astral universe of which we were ignorant; geology, the formation of the earth; chemistry, the law of affinities; physiology, the functions of the organism, etc. Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Laplace, and Lavoisier are revealers.

    The essential character of all revelation must be truth. To reveal a secret is to make known a fact. If the thing is false, it is not a fact, and consequently not a revelation. All so-called revelation contradict by facts is not revelation even if attributed to God. He not being able to tell an untruth or to deceive, we know it cannot emanate from him. It is necessary to consider it as merely a human conception. What is the attitude of the professor to his pupils if it is not that of a revealer? He teaches them that which they do not know, that which they would have neither the time nor the possibility to discover for themselves, because science is the collective work of centuries, and of a multitude of men who have each contributed the results of their observations, by which those who come after them profit.

    Teaching is, the, in reality the revelation of certain scientific or moral, physical or metaphysical, truths given by men who know them to others who know them not, and who, without their aid, would have remained ignorant of them. But the professor teaches that which he has learned; he is a revealer of the second order. The man of genius teaches that which he has found for himself: he is the primitive revealer; he carries the light which, from one place to another, makes itself known. Where would be humanity without the revelations from men of genius who appear from time to time? But what are men of genius? Why are they men of genius? Whence do they come? What becomes of them? Let us observe that the greater part of them are born with transcendent faculties, and innate knowledge that a little labor suffices to develop. They belong really to humanity since they are born, live, and die like mortals. Where, then, have they obtained this knowledge which comes so mysteriously to them? Will one say with the materialist that chance has given to them cerebral matter in greater quantity and better quality? In this case they would have no more merit than one vegetable greater and more savory than another. Will one say with certain Spiritualists that God has given them a more favored soul or mind than those of common men? - a supposition also entirely illogical, since it accuses God of partiality. The only rational solution of this problem is in the preexistence of the soul, and in a plurality of existences. The man of genius is a spirit who has lived a longer time, who has consequently acquired more and progressed more, than those who are less advanced. In becoming incarnate he brings to earth what he knows; and, as he is much wiser than others without the necessity of learning, he is that which one calls a man of genius.

    But that which he knows is the fruit of an anterior work, and not the result of divine preference. Before entering anew into earth-life, he was an advanced spirit. He is re-incarnated, it may be for the purpose of benefiting others, or possibly for the opportunity of acquiring more knowledge himself. Men progress incontestably by themselves by means of their intelligence; but, left to their own forces, progress is very slow, if they are not aided by more advanced minds, as the scholar is by his professors. All nations have among them men of genius who have appeared at divers epochs to give impulsion and draw men from their inertia. If we admit the solicitude of God for his creatures, why should we not also admit that the spirits are capable, by their energy and superior knowledge, to assist humanity to advance; that they are re-incarnated at the desire of God, with the view of aiding progress in a definite manner; that they receive a mission as an ambassador receives one from his sovereign? Such is the role of great geniuses. What come they to do, if not to teach to men truths of which they are ignorant, and of which they would not acquire the knowledge during still longer periods of time, had they not come to give the stepping-stone by which men are enabled to elevate themselves more rapidly? These geniuses who appear at different epochs like brilliant stars, leaving after them a long, luminous track for humanity, are missionaries, - or, better, Messiahs. If they taught men nothing new, their presence would be entirely useless. The new facts they bring to light, be they of a physical or philosophical order, are revelations. If God ordains revealers of scientific truths, he can, for a stronger reason, create them for moral truths, which are the philosophers whose ideas have lived through the ages. In the special sense of religious faith, revelation informs us more particularly of spiritual facts which man cannot know of himself, that he cannot discover by means of his senses, and of which the knowledge is given him by God or by his messengers in direct word or by inspiration. In this case revelation is always made to favored men, designated under the names of prophets or Messiahs; viz., ambassadors, - missionaries having a mission to transmit truths to men. Considered from this point of view, revelation implies absolute passivity. One accepts it without examination, without discussion.

    All religions have their revealers; and, although all are far from having known all the truth, they sustained their claim for being providential; for they were appropriate to the time and place where they lived, to the particular genius of the people to whom they spoke, and to whom they were relatively superior. Notwithstanding the errors of their doctrines, they have at least awakened minds, and by so doing have sown seeds of germs of progress, which later became unfolded, or will yet blossom into a brighter day than the Christian Era. It is then wrong to anathematize the name of orthodoxy; for the day will come when all beliefs, however diverse in form, but which in reality repose upon the same fundamental principles, God and the immortality of the soul, when reason shall have triumphed over prejudice. Unhappily, religious systems through all time have been instruments of domination. The role of prophet has tempted the ambitious among those in subordinate positions, and a multitude of pretended revealers, or Messiahs, who, by reason of the prestige of this name, have taken advantage of credulity to satisfy their pride, their cupidity, or their indolence, finding it easier to live at the expense of their dupes than in any other way. The Christian religion has been a shelter for these parasites. On this subject let us call serious attention to chap. XXI. of the 'Gospel according do Spiritism," 'There will be false Christs and false prophets."

    Are there direct revelations from God to men? This is a question which we dare not settle either affirmatively or negatively in an absolute manner. The thing is not radically impossible; but nothing gives certain proof of it. That which need not be doubted is that the spirits nearest God in perfection enter into his thoughts, and can transmit them. As to incarnate revealers, according to the hierarchical order to which they belong, and to the degree of their personal knowledge, they can draw their instructions from their own knowledge, or receive them from spirits more elevated, from messengers ordained of God. The former, speaking in the name of God, have been sometimes mistaken for God himself. These kinds of communications are not strange to those who are acquainted with spiritual phenomena, and the manner of establishing communication between embodied and disembodied spirits. Instructions can be transmitted by divers means, - by inspiration pure and simple, by the hearing of the word, by seeing spirit-teachers in visions or apparitions, be it in dreams or in a state of wakefulness, of which one finds many examples in the Bible, the Gospel, and in the sacred books of all nations. It is, then, rigorously exact to say that the greater part of revealers are inspired mediums, hearing or seeing; from which it does not follow that all are revealers, and still less intermediaries direct from God or his especial messengers.

    Pure spirits alone receive the word of God, with the mission of transmitting it; but one knows now that all spirits are far from being perfect, and there are those who give false appearances. That is why St. John has said, "Believe not all spirits, but try the spirits whether they are of God" (1 John IV. 4).

    There are serious, true, and deceitful communications, examples of which are found in Apocryphal Scriptures. The essential character of divine revelation is eternal truth. All revelation stained with error, or subject to change, cannot emanate from God. It is thus that the law of the Decalogue still maintains all its original importance; while other Mosaic laws that are essentially transitory, often in contradiction with the law of Sinai, are the personal and political work of the Hebrew legislature. The customs of the people becoming milder, their laws improved. These laws have of themselves fallen into disuse, whilst the Decalogue has remained standing like a beacon-star to humanity. Christ has made it the base of his edifice, whilst he has abolished the other laws. If they had been the work of God, they would have remained standing. Christ and Moses are the two great revealers who have changed the face of the world, and there is the proof of their divine mission. A work purely human could have no such power.

    An important revelation is being given at this present epoch. It is that which shows to us the possibility of communication with beings of the spiritual world.

    This knowledge is not new, without doubt; but it had remained until our day in a state of dead letter; that is to say, without profit for humanity. Ignorance of the laws which ruled these communications had stifled them by superstition. Man was incapable of drawing from them any salutary deduction. It was reserved for our day to disentangle them from their ridiculous accessories, to comprehend the power, and to cause to shine the light which is destined to illumine the future.

Source: The Spiritist Messenger, Year 12, Number 97, July, 2008